The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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News briefs from the Rutland Region

Recent drug raids could lead to increased theft

Local law enforcement officers are warning that property crimes will likely climb rapidly. Recent successful drug raids, pulling some 2,000 bags of heroin or their equivalent out of the general supply, have left local users desperate - and more likely to steal others' money and possessions.

During a recent string of drug raids and motor-vehicle stops, city and state police have taken in not only the above-cited heroin but also lesser quantities of crack cocaine and marijuana, some cash, and a handgun. Such success, however, comes with a price tag of sorts, including car break-ins, burglaries, shoplifting, and forgeries. Other users will try the hospital emergency rooms or look for alternative substances.

So keep watching out for your neighbors and their properties and don't leave valuable items clearly visible. Lock your doors.

 

Alderman Larson will not run for re-election

The first indicator of this spring's aldermanic race has surfaced. Ed Larson has announced he will not run again now, citing health reasons. Others who are eligible for re-election include Board president David Allaire and William Notte who both plan to run.

Old schools, new uses
The old Watkins Avenue school building may, by a twist of fate, end up providing housing for some of the people who once came to the school for education. The Housing Trust of Rutland County has agreed to pay the city school district $100,000 for the property. Built in 1892, the 9960-square-foot building would become six units of senior housing, accompanied by a newly constructed building on the same parcel intended to hold 9 to 10 similar units.

Most recently, the building housed the district maintenance department. Initially it went on the market with a $209,500 price tag. Yet to come is a zoning variance from the city to allow multi-family housing in a single-family zone.

Also headed toward a new future is the former Dana school building on East Street. Generations of Rutland families speak fondly of the old building, perched on 1.79 acres that overlook the downtown. Younger folks put the brick building in their memory books as headquarters of the city recreation department, organizer of summer camps and other community-wide activities, or one of the city's numerous happy pre-schools. Its appraised value is $247,000.


New restaurants open in Rutland

Panera Bread is scheduled to open its second bakery café in Vermont on Dec. 21. Based in St. Louis, Panera Bread focuses on antibiotic-free chicken and whole grain, handcrafted bread, with a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches.

The Rutland location is what promises to be the second of a number of Panera Bread outlets.

It's interesting to watch the growing concentration of food outlets on South Main Street. Panera moved into a new building created expressly for it, joining not-so-old Taco Bell in the easily accessible parking and open space at Green Mountain Plaza.

Across Main is the relatively new Mama T's Country Kitchen, pushed into being to feed people who came to Rutland to counter the damage caused by tropical storm Irene and then moving into the former Quizno's space. Its food draws rave reviews from people who've eaten there. Will its reputation for good food be enough to overcome its low visibility and poor access? 
Also, rumors continue to fly about the coming of a long-sought IHOP restaurant. Some believe it will go in right alongside the Midway Diner; others look at the site as having too many obstacles to overcome.


Downtown parking revisited

Parking regulations and charges have several purposes, some seemingly at odds with each other. Encourage people to come downtown to eat, shop, and do business, but not to park in one spot for 40-50 hours so that other potential users are stopped from parking and doing their business. Rutland's aldermanic board is tackling this thorny issue again.

After considerable discussion, the Community and Economic Development Committee voted to recommend a proposal designed to encourage long-term parkers to use the downtown parking deck. The approach is to tweak rates so that use of city parking meters and parking in the deck cost roughly the same amount of money. To that end, street parking fines will increase from $6 to $15, monthly parking passes from $16 to $35, and long-term meters from 10 to 25 cents per hour. Deter Security will no longer have authority to issue tickets in the Walmart parking lot and only rail passengers may park in the Amtrak lot. Meters will go in any spaces that are not yet metered.
Other changes may be in signage and an increase in the number of 15-minute parking spaces.

The parking deck specifics will likely also change, with the deck extending open hours until 1 a.m. (two hours), reducing monthly pass prices to $35, adding hourly parking rate machines and security cameras, and other improvements.
It appears likely that short-term meter rates will not increase from 50 to 75 cents an hour; nor will city parking cease in "The Pit." If passed, these changes are not permanent, but are instead a step in the process of finding better solutions.


LANI'S PICKS

Friday, Dec. 23 - Debby DuBay visits with book lovers about her book of memories, Greetings from Rutland, at Book King Bookstore.

Tagged: Rutland Report, Larson, Mama T’s Country Kitchen, Panera